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Haemodialysis and blood transfusion can be achieved through the creation of a fistula in your arm. A fistula is the name given to the surgical joining together of an artery and a vein, to form a high volume reservoir of blood, which, when needled, can allow successful cleaning (and return) of the blood through the dialysis machine.

If you are being considered for haemodialysis/ transfusion via a fistula, your surgeon may require you to come to the vascular laboratory for a pre operative assessment called vein mapping. This involves an ultrasound of the blood vessels in your arms to ensure they are suitable for the fistula to be formed. During the scan the Scientist will apply some gel to your arm using an ultrasound probe, and take measurements of your arteries and veins, and the blood flow inside them. After your scan the results will be sent to your consultant, who will be able to tell if a fistula is a suitable option for you, and if so, where about it should be formed.

If you do have a fistula created, you may well be seen for a follow up ultrasound scan by the vascular lab team. During this scan, we will measure the blood flowing though your fistula to ensure it will be good enough for successful dialysis/ transfusion, and check for any narrowing or other problems that may develop over time. From the results of your scan, the consultant will be able to plan any further intervention that may be required to help your fistula function in the best possible way.

Diagram of a Fistula